Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has taken back his decision to resign and will remain in office until the ongoing intra-Libyan political dialogue talks come to an end.
The announcement on Friday by the Libyan government spokesman Galib al-Zaklai comes a day after the High Council of State urged al-Serraj, the head of the Tripoli-based internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), to stay until a new presidential council is selected to avoid a political vacuum detrimental to Libya’s stability.
The UN Support Mission in Libya and the parliament in Tripoli had also called on al-Serraj to defer his decision, citing “reasons of higher interest”.
In September, al-Serraj announced his “sincere desire” to hand over duties to the next executive authority no later than the end of October, as part of the landmark deal to end years of conflict with a rival administration dominated by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The two warring sides have already launched talks via videoconference but are due to hold in-person negotiations on November 9 in Tunisia, to discuss holding national elections.
The GNA, in a statement, said al-Sarraj received several requests to stay in his post longer to avoid a “political vacuum”, including from “leaders in friendly countries”, UN officials and civil society groups.
One request was from Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who had urged al-Serraj to remain in his post “in order to guarantee institutional and executive continuity” in the “crucial weeks” ahead.
Last week, Libya’s warring sides signed an agreement in Geneva for a lasting ceasefire and said all foreign fighters and mercenaries must leave the country within three months.
The two military delegations that struck the deal will reconvene soon with subcommittees to work out details on tough questions, including the withdrawal from front lines, the departure of mercenaries and the unification of armed forces.
Both sides are also supported by an array of fractious militias, though the respective administrations often struggle to control them. In much of the country, heavily armed militias hold sway and have repeatedly undermined ceasefire attempts.
Libya descended into a civil war after the overthrow and killing of strongman and leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, eventually being split between two main factions – the GNA in Tripoli, backed by Turkey and Qatar, and Haftar’s forces in the east, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.